Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Jamaica gets big COVID-19 vaccine discount, one million vials expected by March

Published:Friday | December 4, 2020 | 11:39 AM
Chief Medical Office, Dr Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie (file photo)

Some US $8.2 million is being used to procure one million COVID-19 vaccine vials.

It’s a big discount on the otherwise US$37 million Jamaica would have had to fork out at $37 per dose.

Each individual is expected to receive two doses of the vaccine.

There has been an initial deposit of about US $1.1 million through the Caribbean Public Health Agency

“The balance is being programmed for fiscal year 2021-22,” permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dunstan Bryan revealed to the Public Appropriation and Administration Committee of Parliament.

Bryan said Jamaica is not expected to receive the vaccine until the second quarter of the calendar year.

“The first world countries are going to crowd out the market for the first three to four months,” he said. 

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, said going into the second phase of the vaccination programme, the prices will not remain the same, suggesting there will be an increase.

The CMO explained to the committee that the vaccine, which requires minus 70 degrees Celsius, was not the one Jamaica would be getting as it was not a part of the COVAX facility to which Jamaica currently subscribes.

“So the second and third runners after, are included in the COVAX facility and the probability is that those would become available to us," she said.

“The other vaccines, the storage conditions that are required, are conditions that we presently have in the country,” she said, mentioning that the other type of vaccines will require minus 20 degrees Celsius which is the temperature in most freezers.

The vaccines can be stored up to six months under those conditions. However, once taken out of the minus 20 degrees Celsius temperature, the vaccines can be stored at minus two to eight degrees Celsius, which is the temperature of a typical refrigerator. 

Through the COVAX facility, 15 per cent of the population, the CMO confirmed yesterday, will be covered.

Bisasor-McKenzie said frontline workers and the elderly will have first access to the vaccine.

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